cause

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: a reason for an action or condition : motive
b
: something that brings about an effect or a result
trying to find the cause of the accident
c
: a person or thing that is the occasion of an action or state
a cause for celebration
especially : an agent that brings something about
She is the cause of your troubles.
d
: sufficient reason
discharged for cause
2
a
: a ground of legal action
b
: case
They are paid by the cause for their expert opinions.
3
: a matter or question to be decided
The city council is involved with school department causes.
4
a
: a principle or movement militantly defended or supported
the insurgents' cause
b
: a charitable undertaking
for a good cause
causeless adjective

cause

2 of 2

verb

caused; causing

transitive verb

1
: to serve as a cause or occasion of
cause an accident
2
: to compel by command, authority, or force
caused him to resign
causer noun

Examples of cause in a Sentence

Noun His symptoms had no apparent physical causes. She is the cause of all their problems. The medicine was prescribed without good cause. Their marriage was a cause for celebration. I can support a cause that means something to me. I'm willing to donate money as long as it's for a good cause. Verb He swerved and caused an accident. The flood caused great hardship. The illness is caused by a virus. The flood caused the town great hardship. You caused us a lot of extra work. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The cause was kidney failure, said his daughter Peggy Bennett. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, 13 Sep. 2023 The Roslin Institute, a research center near Edinburgh, Scotland, where Dr. Wilmut had worked for decades, said in a statement that the cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease. Amanda Holpuch, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Sep. 2023 Being the cause of people around the world losing respect for the University of Alabama and the state is something far worse. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, 12 Sep. 2023 Other novel treatments include a 15-minute intravenous iron infusion that can prevent or treat severe anemia in pregnancy—a common cause of postpartum hemorrhage—and administering azithromycin, an antibiotic widely used to treat eye and respiratory infections. Jennifer Fields, Fortune Well, 12 Sep. 2023 While color variations or changes in spot or stripe patterns in various species are not uncommon, the exact cause of the spotless coat variation in these two giraffes is unclear. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 12 Sep. 2023 The youth of these players also allowed the research team to rule out aging as the cause of the damage. Celia Ford, WIRED, 12 Sep. 2023 The underlying cause will guide your treatment.7 10 Things That Can Throw Off Your Period A Quick Review Several factors might cause irregular periods that result in two periods in one month. Jessica Migala, Health, 11 Sep. 2023 The authors of the Vancouver study write that traditional strategies to address the issue, such as focusing on health care or housing support, do not directly target a core cause of homelessness - the lack of money. Kelsey Ables, Anchorage Daily News, 31 Aug. 2023
Verb
The data reinforced expectations for the Fed to pause next week, but at the same time, there are lingering concerns over persistent inflation, which could cause the Fed to take note, Commerzbank analysts say in a research report. WSJ, 14 Sep. 2023 The Interior Ministry from the affected eastern region announced the new toll Tuesday night as rescue and aid operations finally gathered steam, three days after torrential rains burst dams in eastern Libya, causing a flood that wiped out whole city blocks with terrible ferocity and speed. Kareem Fahim, Washington Post, 13 Sep. 2023 Threading the screw into the anchor with either a screwdriver or drill will cause the anchor to expand and wedge firmly into the wall. Kristina McGuirk, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Sep. 2023 What caused the rupture between conservatives and big business? The New Republic, 13 Sep. 2023 For special needs students, the distress caused by the school shutdown can be even more acute. Megan Specia, New York Times, 13 Sep. 2023 The bacterium is often found in the nose and throat of people without causing the disease. Monique Calello, USA TODAY, 2 Sep. 2023 Licensed wildlife rehabilitators have received training and certification on how to best handle wild animals, and know how to interact without causing harm to the animal or themselves. Mika Travis, Detroit Free Press, 2 Sep. 2023 Ultimately, the Burger King case and others could cause companies to be more careful with their ads, said Jeff Galak, an associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. Dee-Ann Durbin, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cause.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin causa "judicial proceedings, interests of one side in a judicial case, plea, pretext, ground of action, motive, reason," of uncertain origin

Verb

Middle English causen, borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French causer, borrowed from Medieval Latin causāre, causārī "to plead, accuse, blame, serve as the cause of, occasion," going back to Latin causārī "to plead an action in law, plead as an excuse," derivative of causa "judicial proceedings, plea, cause entry 1"

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cause was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near cause

Cite this Entry

“Cause.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cause. Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

cause

1 of 2 noun
1
: something or someone that brings about a result or condition
2
: a good or adequate reason
a cause for celebration
3
a
: a ground of legal action
b
: something supported or deserving support
a worthy cause
causeless adjective

cause

2 of 2 verb
caused; causing
: to be the cause of

Legal Definition

cause

1 of 2 noun
1
: something that brings about an effect or result
the negligent act which was the cause of the plaintiff's injury

Note: The cause of an injury must be proven in both tort and criminal cases.

actual cause
: cause in fact in this entry
but-for cause
: cause in fact in this entry
cause in fact
: a cause without which the result would not have occurred

called also actual cause, but-for cause

concurrent cause
: a cause that joins simultaneously with another cause to produce a result

called also concurring cause

compare intervening cause and superseding cause in this entry
direct cause
: proximate cause in this entry
efficient intervening cause
: superseding cause in this entry
intervening cause
: an independent cause that follows another cause in time in producing the result but does not interrupt the chain of causation if foreseeable

called also supervening cause

compare concurrent cause and superseding cause in this entry
: superseding cause in this entry
legal cause
: proximate cause in this entry
procuring cause
: one (as a broker) that sets in motion a continuous series of events culminating especially in the sale or leasing of real estate entitled to a commission as the procuring cause of the sale even though the listing had expired
producing cause
: an efficient, exciting, or contributing cause (as an act, practice, or event) that produces an injury which would not have occurred without it claimed that the workplace accident was a producing cause of his disability used especially in workers' compensation and consumer protection cases

Note: A producing cause lacks the element of foreseeability associated with a proximate cause, being more exclusively concerned with causation in fact.

proximate cause
: a cause that sets in motion a sequence of events uninterrupted by any superseding causes and that results in a usually foreseeable effect (as an injury) which would not otherwise have occurred

called also direct cause, legal cause

see also Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. compare remote cause in this entry
remote cause
: a cause that is followed by a superseding cause interrupting the chain of causation
also : a cause that in ordinary experience does not lead to a particular effect compare proximate cause in this entry
superseding cause
: an unforeseeable intervening cause that interrupts the chain of causation and becomes the proximate cause of the effect

called also efficient intervening cause, intervening cause

compare concurrent cause and intervening cause in this entry
supervening cause
: intervening cause in this entry
2
: a reason or justification for an action or state (as belief): as
a
: good cause in this entry
an appeal dismissed for cause
b
: just cause in this entry
behavior that constitutes cause to terminate an employee

Note: The circumstances under which cause, good cause, just cause, probable cause, reasonable cause, or sufficient cause exists are determined on a case by case basis. These terms are often used interchangeably, and the distinctions between them are sometimes unclear.

good cause
: a substantial reason put forth in good faith that is not unreasonable, arbitrary, or irrational and that is sufficient to create an excuse for an act under the law unable to show good cause for failure to pay child support neglect of duty is good cause for removal of a trustee
just cause
: cause that a person of ordinary intelligence would consider a fair and reasonable justification for an act used especially in cases involving termination of employment and denial of unemployment benefits
: good cause in this entry
probable cause \ ˈprä-​bə-​bəl-​ \
: a reasonable ground in fact and circumstance for a belief in the existence of certain circumstances (as that an offense has been or is being committed, that a person is guilty of an offense, that a particular search will uncover contraband, that an item to be seized is in a particular place, or that a specific fact or cause of action exists) when supported by probable cause, warrantless search of vehicle may extend to every part of vehicle where objects of search might be concealedState v. Nixon, 593 N.E.2d 1210 (1992)

called also reasonable cause, sufficient cause

compare reasonable suspicion

Note: The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” Probable cause is also required for a warrantless arrest. Probable cause is an objective standard rather than a function of subjective opinion or suspicion not grounded in fact or circumstance. However, the facts or circumstances need not be of the nature of certainty necessary to establish proof in court.

: justification for an administrative search based on a showing that it is to be conducted in accordance with standardized nonarbitrary regulatory procedures designed to further public interest in regulatory enforcement that outweighs the intrusiveness of the search
reasonable cause
: probable cause in this entry
also : a fact or circumstance that justifies a reasonable suspicion compare reasonable suspicion
: a reason that would motivate a person of ordinary intelligence under the circumstances reasonable cause to believe abuse had occurred
: something (as an event or the exercise of ordinary care or prudence) that excuses or justifies failure to file a tax return on time
sufficient cause
: cause that is deemed enough to provide an excuse under the law: as
a : good cause in this entry often used in the phrase good and sufficient cause
b : probable cause in this entry
3
a
: a ground of a legal action
tortious conduct is not a cause of divorce embraced within the statutory cause of cruel and inhuman treatmentCase & Comment
b
: case
questions of law…determinative of the cause then pendingR. T. Gerwatowski
4
in the civil law of Louisiana : the reason for making a contract compare frustration sense 2

Note: Under the Louisiana Civil Code, if a contract's cause is illicit or immoral, the contract is absolutely null. If the cause fails after the contract is made (as when a leased building cannot be occupied because of a fire), the contract may either be not enforced or only partially enforced.

cause

2 of 2 transitive verb
caused; causing
1
: to serve as the cause of
the scales struck the plaintiff causing injuries for which she suesPalsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co., 162 N.E. 99 (1928)
2
: to effect by command, authority, or force
the administrator shall cause an investigation to be made

More from Merriam-Webster on cause

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